Press and Biography

In the deft fusion of Scottish and Japanese influences in James Stephenson’s “Oracle Night,” played by Mr. Singer and the violist Nadia Sirota, came another echo of the […] power to span unbridgeable distances and inspire connections previously unimagined.

-Steve Smith, The New York Times, 28/10/2011

The highlights of this program for me [include] James Stephenson’s Oracle Night […] a haunting piece for viola and percussion made ever-so effectively creepy by [Nadia] Sirota’s furious spiccato and the use of big and small claves and varied-size wood-blocks by percussionist Jonathan Singer.

-Chris McGovern, The Glass, 28/10/2011


James Stephenson was born in South Yorkshire, and read music as a Sir Thomas Beecham scholar at the University of York. After receiving his MA in Composition in 2003, he went on to be awarded a PhD from the University of Manchester, studying with Philip Grange and John Casken.

Performances of James’ compositions have been given by groups such as Psappha, Gemini, Savadi and Black Hair, at UK venues in London, Manchester, Sheffield, York and Cambridge. James made his European debut with Per Noctes Quaesivi, given by Ensemble Savadi in Stuttgart (2006) and Nuremberg (2010). His first North American concert in October 2011 was the second performance of Oracle Night by the American Contemporary Music Ensemble at a Sequenza 21 / Manhattan New Music Project in New York City.

As a conductor and oboist, James has performed across the UK, as well as in Germany, Holland, Italy, Japan and Switzerland. Recently, he has worked extensively directing the Vaganza ensemble, including performances of Berio’s Laborinthus 2, Birtwistle’s Silbury Air and Stockhausen’s Kreuzspiel, as well as the world premiere of Paul Archbold’s Melting Moments and the first commercial recording of Richard Whalley’s Intoxicating Orchids.

James is also the director of the Chiasmus ensemble and co-director of Departure Lounge Experimental Arts. Outside of music, he has a keen interest in education, currently running the Quality Assurance department for transnational education provider NCC Education, and is also an active landscape/architectural photographer and an occasional writer.


Remembrance Songs (2007) featured on the 2010 album Moments and Days by Alison Wells and Ian Mitchell. UHR Label (UHR018)

Conductor for Richard Whalley’s Intoxicating Orchids … details to follow

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